Certification as a Cantor in the Metropolitan Archeparchy of Pittsburgh
The certificate of completion of the Metropolitan Cantor Institute is used to indicate that the cantor is capable of leading the singing at any parish of the Archeparchy, throughout the year. To this end, the following requirements must be met to receive this certificate.
Through an interview or written exam, the cantor must demonstrate that he or she understands:
- the role of the cantor in the Byzantine Catholic Church
- the basic structure of the liturgical services of the Church, and when they are celebrated
- the structure of the liturgical year
The cantor must be able to:
- determine the chants to be used for the Divine Liturgy on a particular Sunday or feast day, using the Annual Typikon.
- determine the chants that may be used for the Divine Liturgy on a particular ordinary weekday
- determine and demonstrate the chants to be sung at great Vespers for any particular Sunday or feast, using the MCI Vesper propers for the day.
- The cantor must be able to sing, upon request, any of the music in The Divine Liturgies of Our Holy Fathers John Chrysostom and Basil the Great:
- music for the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and weekdays for the year
- the (short) Panachida
- the (short) General Moleben
- the scriptural and liturgical hymns in the appendix
Exception: knowledge of the “solemn form” of the irmos melodies for feasts will not be tested.
- The cantor must also be able to sing:
- the service of Vespers for Sundays and feast days
- the service of Vespers on Sunday evenings in the Great Fast
- the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
- the principal services of Great and Holy Week, and Pascha
a. Vespers with Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday
b. Matins on Great and Holy Friday
c. Vespers on Great and Holy Friday
d. Vespers with Divine Liturgy on Great and Holy Saturday
e. Paschal Matins
- the principal services of the Nativity and Theophany
a. Vespers with Divine Liturgy on the eves of both feasts
b. Compline with Litija (abbreviated) on Christmas Eve
- the baptismal and wedding services
- the anointing of the sick
- the parastas and funeral services
- the Akathist and Paraklis services to the Theotokos
- The cantor must be able to properly chant an epistle and an Old Testament reading, since he or she may be asked to serve as a reader, or train church readers.
- The cantor must be able to sing a core repertoire of common paraliturgical hymns of our Church (list to be provided).
The cantor must demonstrate, in an actual church service, that he or she:
- can clearly and properly begin each chant, with an appropriate pitch and tempo
- can lead the singing of a congregation
- can adjust the singing in response to the needs of the congregation and the circumstances
- can match the pitch of a priest or deacon, and can maintain a consistent pitch
- understands and practices proper cantorial etiquette.
All material necessary for cantor certification will be taught in the course of the MCI online curriculum. All required courses must be completed and passed.
When cantor has completed the required courses, he or she will submit an audio or video recording of an entire Divine Liturgy at which he or she has served as principal cantor. This will be reviewed by Cantor Institute instructors, who will either provide feedback. If it appears likely that the cantor can meet the leadership requirements, then two MCI instructors, or one instructor and an experienced cantor acceptable to all parties, will attend a Divine Liturgy at which the cantor being examined will lead all singing at the service. This will serve as the final examination for cantor certification.
If cantors take more than three years to complete the online program, they may be asked as part of this final examination to demonstrate a continued facility with the required repertoire.
What is NOT included in cantor certification:
- singing in languages other than English – though cantors in parishes that make use of other languages should strive to learn to sing them properly; the Cantor Institute will provide assistance where possible.
- the service of Matins (except for Matins on Great and Holy Friday, and Paschal Matins)
- the Hours and Small Compline (since these are straight-forward adaptations of music used in other services)
- choral singing or choir directing